Coronavirus (COVID-19) Staff FAQ

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Staff FAQ

We are looking forward to safely welcoming the Falcon family back to campus for the fall 2020 semester. Over the past few months our Emergency Management team has worked closely with the Marion County Health Department, West Virginia National Guard, West Virginia HEPC, and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to create guidelines that will help to keep our campus community safe.

Throughout this process of preparation and implementation, our decisions continue to be guided by public health guidelines and the health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff and communities.

The health, safety, and wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and students is our top priority. The Emergency Management team has met with Interim Provost Dr. Richard Stephens and all school and college Deans. In the coming weeks, your Dean and Department Chairs have been empowered to work with you to ensure that you are prepared, confident, and ready to return to the classroom for the fall 2020 semester.

Fairmont State is a face-to-face institution. While taking necessary health and safety precautions, we look forward to safely welcoming our students back to campus, fully engaged in the classroom, laboratory, clinical, experiential, and co-curricular environments. Yes, things will be a little different but the same Falcon spirit will remain.

The Emergency Management team, in partnership with the Marion County Health Department, will continue to closely monitor the ongoing pandemic situation to ensure the safety of the campus community. The Emergency Management team and campus administration will continue to work with the faculty, staff, students, and all constituents and send updated information as it becomes available or guidelines change.

Please review the Faculty FAQ below. These were questions provided from the faculty through the deans to the Emergency Management team. This document is intended to answer many commonly asked questions about health and safety plans for the fall semester 2020.

While we have tried to answer a wide range of commonly asked questions in the below FAQ, please understand that this is an ever-evolving pandemic.  We are pivoting on the spot to make decisions and implement ‘best in practice’ knowledge and/or directions from the medical and health community. 

Virtual faculty/staff, and student forums are currently being coordinated in order to provide you a venue to ask other questions.  The following dates/times have been scheduled for the forums so far:

  • July 21, 1:00pm (Faculty/Staff)
  • July 22, 7:00pm (Student)
  • July 23, 1:00pm (Student)

 Information and a link regarding how to sign onto these forums will be sent via your Fairmont State email.

HEALTHY CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT

Are there guidelines for in-person gatherings?
The guidelines for in-person gatherings are:

  • No more than 25 people may gather in one place at any time
  • Try to keep in-person gatherings as small as possible 
  • MUST practice safe social distancing (6 feet) 
  • A face covering is REQUIRED when within 6 feet of other people or a shared space 
  •  MUST use gloves/sanitizer if you plan on touching anything others may have also come into contact with 
  • No shared or self-serve sources of food and/or utensils shall be permitted

How is the University managing student COVID-19 cases?
Fairmont State has created a COVID-19 Task Force comprised of individuals from the emergency management team, student affairs, student health, student conduct, and IT. The task force works closely with the local health departments to continually monitor active COVID-19 cases on campus based on testing information and self-reports. 

A representative from Student Health or the Student COVID Liaison will be in continuous communication with all students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine. Additionally, Counseling Services will be alerted to assist students during this time. The Student COVID Liaison will work to inform faculty members if a student will miss in-person class because of a COVID-related event or a self-report of illness. 

How is it not against HIPAA for people to be notified if someone tests positive?

Students, faculty and staff will be notified privately by the local health department if they test positive. Those identified as a close contact will be notified they have been exposed, but no personal, identifying information will be given.

How will we know how COVID-19 is affecting the University community as the semester progresses?

Our public health partners will work with our COVID Task Force in identifying the number of positive cases and potential spread of the virus in the community. That information will inform the actions the University must take to keep campus safe. You can follow Fairmont State’s COVID-19 testing results on the campus testing results dashboard— www.fairmontstate.edu/covid19 . 

What if I feel ill or begin to show symptoms of COVID-19?

Students should first contact Student Health Services, (304) 367-4155, and the Marion County Health Department, (304) 366-3360. Then, students should immediately self-isolate, wear a mask, and report symptoms at www.fairmontstate.edu/reportillness.  Remember that masks are to be worn in any public spaces and in all classrooms at the University.

Faculty and staff should not report to work or visit campus if they feel ill or show symptoms associated with COVID-19. Contact their primary care provider, HR and your immediate supervisor. Then, self-isolate, wear a mask, and report symptoms at www.fairmontstate.edu/reportillness.

Will everyone be tested before returning to campus?

Fairmont State will provide a free test to all students, faculty and staff who are returning to Fairmont State campuses. Students who are taking classes exclusively online will not be required to be tested.

Will the University test new hires for COVID-19 as they come on board? 

Any new hires who will be working on campus, including those working in a hybrid capacity, will be required to complete a COVID-19 test.

What happens if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19? 

Students, faculty and staff with a positive test result will be notified by the local health department and a contact tracing investigation will begin. Please be as honest and detailed as possible when providing information on others who may have been exposed.

As requested, the University will assist with contact tracing and also work with local health departments to determine if there is a need to decontaminate a specific facility or implement any additional mitigation measures.

Testing information regarding patients is regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines and will be kept confidential to the extent possible under the circumstances.

What protocols should faculty, staff and students follow while waiting for their University COVID-19 test results?

You will be asked to maintain physical separation as much as possible and avoid large gatherings to the fullest extent possible until the results of your test are available.

Faculty and staff should still report to work, but they must wear a mask/face covering as mandated, stay in their workspace as much as possible, practice physical distancing and avoid large crowds.

Students may not attend class while awaiting test results. Students can leave their residence hall room but should wear a mask/face covering as mandated and stay physically distant as much as possible, and follow all other Residence Hall Health and Safety Policies. Students should still be able to eat within the dining halls, but they should wear a mask/face covering and physically distance themselves while traveling to dining halls and when they are not eating. During this period, various virtual activities will be hosted for students to stay busy, meet people, etc.

CLASSROOM WELLNESS AND CAPACITY

What physical distancing protocols will be put in place in classrooms?

At the Marion County Health Department's recommendation, and now the Governor’s mandate, everyone is required to wear a mask while in the classroom and in open spaces. According to the Marion County Health Department, social distancing is not necessary in the classrooms when all students and faculty are wearing masks. However, physical distancing will be observed in all instances when possible. Cleaning supplies in the form of a refillable spray bottle of cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth will be located in each classroom and lab.

Will hand sanitizer and masks be provided?  

Faculty, staff, and students will be provided at least one hand sanitizer in their welcome back package. Hand sanitizing stations and hand sanitizing refill stations will be located throughout campus in building common areas. 

Faculty, staff, and students will be provided with two reusable masks.  

A supply of disposable masks will also be provided to academic areas. Deans will provide faculty information relative to where students can go to get a mask if a student has forgotten to bring one to class. 

Inexpensive masks will be sold at the campus Bound for Success bookstore and at the library Starbucks.

Will temperature checks be done at entrances to buildings, offices, classrooms, etc.?

Temperature checks will not be part of the everyday campus experience for most faculty, staff and students. Some units with unique risks associated with their operations, such as Dining Services, may establish more stringent access controls, including daily temperature checks and health status questionnaires before reporting to work.

How often will cleaning be done on campus?  

Custodial services will continue to clean each day. High-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, furniture, student desks, tables, and railings — will first be cleaned and then sprayed with an electrostatic disinfectant spray approved to kill the virus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). High-touch areas and public restrooms in densely populated buildings will receive extra cleaning throughout the day with an approved disinfectant. 

What cleaning measures will be taken in classrooms? Will classrooms be cleaned after each class?

Spray bottles containing CorrectPac Germicidal Cleaner disinfectant and microfiber cleaning cloths (custodial staff will collect these at the end of the day, replace with a clean one, and they will be laundered on-site), approved by the CDC, will be placed in all classrooms. Masks will be required by all faculty, staff, students when in the classroom. Faculty may develop seating plans and layouts for classrooms and labs to allow for physical distancing where possible. Custodial cleaning and sanitization will be conducted daily, at a minimum. In addition to nightly cleaning, the cloths may be used if a faculty member wishes to clean their area between classes. The Safety Data Sheet for the disinfectant does not indicate personal protective equipment or any hazards as defined by OSHA HAZCOM for the diluted solution, which is what is in the spray bottles in classrooms. If a faculty member wishes to clean their area between classes, they should use the disinfectant as indicated on the bottle, spraying the cleaner on the cloth and then wiping the surface. The SDS does say, like with any cleaning product, wash hands with soap and water if the product contacts the skin, always observe good personal hygiene measures such as washing hands with soap and water after handling the product, and wash hands with soap and water before eating and/or drinking.

I am in a high-risk group and am supposed to social distance. That is not possible in the classroom I teach in. What should I do?

The Marion County Health Department has advised that social distancing is not necessary as long as masks are worn by all.  However, if you require special accommodations, please work with Human Resources. Special Accommodation requests may invoke the interactive process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may require physician documentation, and may be assessed for reasonable accommodations and/or undue hardship on the Department or the University. You should discuss any medical concerns you have with your supervisor, your physician, and/or Human Resources.

How many people can be in a lab at once? 

Each classroom and lab will be addressed individually. Deans are working with Emergency Management staff to review classrooms and lab configurations.  Please remember that according to the Health Department, social distancing is not necessary as long as masks are being worn by everyone.

What protocols are being put in place on campus to observe physical distancing?

Floor markers are being placed around campus in high traffic and common areas. Directional signage intended to encourage physically distanced traffic flow and building entry is being installed on campus. Separate entrances and exits will be used for higher traffic areas. All physical distancing protocols will be adhered to, when possible.

Will there be spots on the floor that encourage physical distancing where students wait for class? 

 Yes. Floor markers are being placed around campus in high traffic and common areas to encourage physical distancing. 

Will the extra furniture in the classrooms be removed?

Furniture will remain in classrooms as-is. However, configurations may be created to limit the use of certain furniture to observe physical distancing, where possible. This is up to Deans, Chairs, and faculty.

Can we require face masks for entering/standing in the doorway of offices?

The state of West Virginia has mandated that face coverings be worn in all buildings. Fairmont State will require the use of face coverings at all times when in the classroom and in all public spaces. To further protect faculty, staff, and students, the University will allow and encourages faculty to conduct all student meetings and advising sessions remotely via WebEx.

Will painter's tape or other floor marking items be provided for lab spaces?

Upon request, yes. Please work with your department Chair to submit a request to the Facilities department.

ALTERNATIVE COURSE SCHEDULES & TECHNOLOGY

Some faculty may feel that the best way to distance socially is to teach online and remotely. Is this an option?  

The University will allow and encourages faculty to conduct all student meetings, faculty meetings, and advising sessions remotely via WebEx. This should limit the amount of time faculty are on-campus to class instruction time only. Office hours for virtual appointments should be posted physically on-campus and in your syllabus. 

Fairmont State is a face to face institution. Faculty will need to be present for face to face class instruction.  

As an instructor, how will I know if students are missing class due to a potential COVID-19 exposure or event?

Faculty will receive a form email from the COVID-19 Student Liaison informing them that a student is unable to attend class due to a COVID-19 related matter or event and will not be back in class for at least XX days. Faculty should work with these students to develop alternative plans to allow for continued progress in the class until they physically return.

This email is not confirmation that there has been an exposure to faculty and/or other students.  The associated County Health Department will be in contact with those people identified as being “secondarily exposed.”  Please continue to conduct class as currently structured until further notice. 

If one student in a class tests positive, will all students in the class have to quarantine? 

Only those who have been within close contact of a person who tests positive will be asked to quarantine. This request will come from the associated Health Department via a contact tracing investigation.

A close contact includes:

  • Having been within 6 feet of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for a period of at least 15 minutes in any environment, regardless of the use of face coverings or masks; or,
  • Living in the same household as a person with COVID-19,
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19, or
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.) 

How will course requirements be met when a student has to quarantine/self-isolate for possibly a week at a time, in multiple instances?

It is the expectation that during the next academic year, all course material necessary to meet the course learning goals will be available to students in the event of a mandated quarantine or isolation. Even in quarantine or isolation, a student will be able to keep up with class content, as well as any class requirements. Synchronous, live broadcasts of all classes will be available to all students.  It is further expected that all classes will be recorded. Communication with instructors is key to continued success within the course, so all  students should keep their instructors informed of any situation that may impact class attendance.

For classes where students can't physically distance in the scheduled classroom, what is the plan?

Where possible, the Provost and Deans will look at enrollment and class size to shift classrooms to a larger space, thereby modifying classroom assignments. 

The Provost will work with the Deans, Chairs, and the Faculty to look at creating alternative teaching days to reduce class size further, should this be necessary. 

Can faculty with large class sizes alternate groups of students on different days, with others attending virtually?  

Yes. The Provost will work with the Deans, Chairs, and the Faculty to look at creating alternative teaching days to further reduce face-to-face class size.

What happens if a student demands to attend each class, and it is not their class day?

This will be addressed on a case by case basis. Please notify your department Chair.

What if they read lips and cannot do this as well on a webcam, so they must attend class? 

This will be addressed on a case by case basis. Please notify your department Chair.

What technology has been purchased to support the blended class (or alternating attendance).  Web cams, document cameras?

All classrooms will have a webcam, although the exact setup will vary by classroom. The majority of rooms will have a webcam built into the computer, while others may have a stand-alone webcam. IT staff are working directly with science and nursing faculty to determine the needs of those specific areas and labs.

Will there be training on how to use said technology?

A video that explains the technology available and how to use it will be recorded after the classrooms have been set up for the fall semester. These resources will be available on the Tech Commons website. https://www.fairmontstate.edu/it/tech-commons

Is there any provision for recording the class session for later viewing by students? What software will be used?

Each faculty member has the option of using WebEx and/or Teams to record a lecture, and then post it to the Ensemble video server, with a link in Blackboard. Instructions for doing this are being compiled and will be available to faculty on the Tech Commons website.

Will microphones to clip to clothing be available? It may be difficult to hear instructors with a mask on in the back of the classroom especially if they already have a low voice volume.
There will be boundary microphones in the classrooms to assist with recording in-class lectures. However, these microphones will not amplify the faculty member in the physical classroom. Faculty experiencing problems with sound in the classroom, and/or requiring speakers should contact Tech Commons.

Information Technology Commons
Room: 139 Ruth Ann Musick Library
Phone: 304.367.4810
To request services or support: help@fairmontstate.edu
For general inquiries: techcommons@fairmontstate.edu

Will there be staggered class dismissal times to decrease traffic in buildings?  

At this time, no changes have been made to class schedules.

Under what circumstances would Fairmont State go entirely online? Under what circumstances would Fairmont State send students home?

University administration is working closely with local health department and public health officials to track infection positivity rates nationally and statewide. All decisions will be based on data and on information received from health officials.  The University will communicate with its community as information is made available.

Fairmont State is continuously monitoring the following indicators:

  • Percentage of tests that are positive.
  • County-specific incidence rates of COVID-19.
  • County-specific R-naught values (tracks the rate of transmission.)
  • Information on hospitalizations and hospital capacity.

This information will be regularly provided to University leadership to continually assess our local situation so appropriate decisions are made and communicated in a timely basis. 

Will there be a reduction in tuition for online class schedules?

No, there will not be a reduction in tuition, as students will continue to receive quality instruction and will be earning college credit toward commencement.  In addition, Fairmont State University did not increase tuition for this academic year in an effort to provide as much support to returning and new students.

FACE COVERING POLICIES & ACCOMMODATIONS

Who will be required to wear a mask in the classroom?

Fairmont State will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear face coverings while on any of Fairmont State's campuses, or during any University sanctioned event when social distancing cannot occur. Face coverings will be required at all times when in the classroom and in all public spaces. 

Will there be any shields between the faculty and the students, such as plexiglass-like material in front of the lecterns? 

The Fairmont State Emergency Management team is currently assessing limited areas on campus where plexiglass-like guards may be installed. These will be limited in nature, and at this time, there is no plan to install these in classrooms because face coverings will be required. 

What if my student relies on lip reading?

Requests for accommodations should be submitted to the Office of Accessibility Services. The Office of Accessibility Services will review documentation and determine a process to distribute clear face coverings to the faculty of that student.

Are face shields a suitable alternative to a mask?

It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks. Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended.

Can we require that our students wear masks in class and lab as a safety issue?

Fairmont State will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear face coverings in all classrooms and teaching spaces. 

Will masks be required in all common spaces (hallways, etc.)? 

The state of West Virginia has mandated that face coverings be worn in all buildings. Fairmont State will require the use of face coverings at all times when in the classroom and in all public spaces.

What consequences do students and employees face if they refuse to wear a mask or face covering on campus?

Fairmont State University requires all students to wear facemasks while on any of Fairmont State’s campuses. Students with a disability who are unable to wear a facemask may request a reasonable modification to the University’s mandatory facemask policy. To begin this process, students should contact the Office of Accessibility Services at access@fairmontstate.edu to schedule an appointment. Students will be required to provide documentation that verifies they meet the ADA definition of a person with a disability and describes the needed modification. A facemask modification/exemption will be noted on the student’s academic accommodation letter for their professors. Other Fairmont State University employees who need to confirm that a student is approved for a facemask modification/exemption may use StarRez (medical flag) in the Residence Halls, Fusion in the Falcon Center, or Banner (GOAMEDI). Employees who do not have access to these platforms may reach out to the Office of Accessibility Services ((304) 333-3661) to verify a facemask modification/exemption. The University has the responsibility to mitigate any direct threats on campus and the notation on these platforms provides verification of the approved modification/accommodation. No confidential information regarding a student’s disability will be shared on any of these platforms.

Failure of students to comply with the University’s Student Code of Conduct regarding facemasks will result in disciplinary measures. Employees who need to report a student’s failure to comply with the University’s facemask policy should complete the Fairmont State University Student Conduct Complaint Form. Jack A. Clayton, Interim Director of Student Conduct, will initiate the student conduct process at that point. 

Individuals with questions regarding student facemask modifications/exemptions for students may contact Amy Snively in the Office of Accessibility Services at Amy.Snively@fairmontstate.edu or (304) 333-3661. Faculty and staff who want to seek a facemask modification should contact HR@fairmontstate.edu to discuss their needs.

Failure by employees to follow these safety protocols may result in counseling and/or disciplinary action — up to and including termination of employment — in accordance with Fairmont State University Board of Governors’ Policy 64 and HEPC Series 9. 

MISCELLANEOUS

Are there penalties for failing to take the COVID-19 test?

For employees, if you fail to take the COVID-19 test by Aug. 22, you will be subject to employee disciplinary actions until you take the test including, but not limited to, suspension or separation from the University.

Who came up with the definition of a close contact?

Fairmont State follows the guidance provided by the CDC on the definition of close contacts.

Why is it safe for faculty to come back but not all students?

We have taken significant precautions to keep our faculty and students as safe as possible within the classroom, including Plexiglas barriers, physical distancing and mask/face covering requirements. In addition, we’ve provided faculty with guidelines to assure that all students are following the necessary protocols. We understand that this situation is not ideal, but we know the importance of in-person instruction.  We are doing everything we can to continue that instruction.

Are employees able to travel?

Fairmont State strongly discourages any student or employee from personal travel to locations other than their home and campus. In addition, the University remains closed to visitors.

University-related international and domestic business travel for Fairmont State students and employees will be not be allowed. Individuals who are returning to the Fairmont State campuses from any international/cruise ship travel are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine/self-monitoring period.

Will student study areas (computer labs and study spaces) be closed? Will signs be posted that encourage physical distancing?

While some common area furniture has been removed from campus or rearranged to ensure physical distancing, labs and study spaces will remain open. Precautions such as removing every other chair, taping off areas, and posting of signage have been put in place.

Are all local field trips canceled? 

Under current guidance, all K-12 trips are suspended. Should guidance from state and local officials change, additional information will be provided. 

Can we bring in outside groups for training if we require them to wear a face mask?

All visitors to campus must wear a face covering. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring faculty and/or academic unit to inform all visitors of these protocols and to ensure compliance with the University's safety protocols.

What is going to happen when the flu and COVID-19 are here at the same time?

We recommend that students and staff receive the influenza vaccine to help prevent infection this flu season. The recommendations of wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and proper hygiene will also aid in the prevention of other illnesses

As with prior Fairmont State publications, these materials are meant to be consistent with guidance published by the federal, state, and local governments and the associated health agencies. This document is reflective of the relevant scientific and medical information available at the time of publication. These materials are not and should not be used as a substitute for medical or legal advice. Rather, they are intended as a resource for use in coordination with applicable government and related institutional policies and guidelines, and they remain subject to further revision as available data and information in this space continue to emerge and evolve.

NOTE: The lists are not exhaustive.  Further, the above link(s) are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Fairmont State University, and Fairmont State bears no responsibility for the accuracy, effectiveness or legal status of the content of these external sites or for that of subsequent links. Please contact the individual site owners for answers to questions regarding content.